How to File your Income Tax Return Without Your W2

It is possible -- even required -- to file a tax return even if you do not have the W-2 forms that document your prior year's wage and salary information. If your former employers have failed to send you a W-2, or if you have lost your copy, you should contact your employers to have a new copy sent. If you do file your return before the W-2s show up, make sure to check the numbers you used on the return against the W-2s once you get them. You an always file an amended return to make up for any discrepancies.

Things You'll Need

  • Last paycheck stub from the previous year.


    • 1

      Gather your final paycheck stubs for the previous year. Your last paycheck will contain most of the information that is reflected on your form W-2.

    • 2

      Obtain your employer's federal tax ID number or employer information number (EIN). If you have worked for the same company for several years, you should be able to get the tax ID number from last year's W-2. If this is a new job for you or you have never received a W-2 from the employer in question, then you will have to go through a couple of extra steps.

      Ask your employer for the number -- this is the easiest way. If your employer won't play along, and some absolutely will NOT, then you will have to look it up. To do this, point your browser to or to EINfinder -- find links in the Resources section that will take you there.

    • 3

      Begin to file your income tax return without your W-2 once you have your old paystub and your employer's identification number. Use the final year-to-date income number listed on the paystub as your total income for the year, and use the year-to-date sums to enter your federal withholding and state withholding amounts in their proper boxes.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is January 11th, 2009 and my income tax return has been completed for almost a week now.... and sitting in queue to be e-filed when the IRS begins accepting them on January 19th (this date is apt to change each year, so be cautious). .
  • DO NOT GIVE YOUR MONEY AWAY TO ANY TAX PREP SERVICE if you are eligible to fill out a simple tax return!
  • Do it yourself -- Don't be afraid, it is relatively simple, all that you are doing is answering questions that NO ONE knows the answers to better than YOU anyway.
  • If you have a more complicated tax situation you will be better off going to a tax professional, but it is up to them whether they will use your final paycheck in lieu of a W2.
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  • Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

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